Exploring the “black box” of customer co-creation processes

Document Type


Publication details

Trischler, J, Pervan, SJ & Scott, DR 2017, 'Exploring the “black box” of customer co-creation processes', Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 265-280.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



Purpose – Many firms use customer co-creation practices with the aim of benefiting from their customers’ knowledge, skills and resources. This paper aims to explore co-creation processes which involve users with different background characteristics and motivational drivers.
Design/methodology/approach – The study builds on an analysis of data from six teams in which users collaborated with in-house professionals for the development of new service concepts. Observations and open-ended questionnaires provided insights into the teams’ development processes. Independent experts rated the generated concepts. The data were analysed using cross-comparison matrices.
Findings – The findings suggest that the co-creation process and outcomes can be influenced by numerous intra-team factors, including relationship and task conflicts, participation style, team bonding, team identity and cohesiveness and intra-team collaboration. Their occurrence and influence seem to be linked with a specific team composition. A conceptual co-creation process model and six propositions are used to describe the complex relationships between team composition, intra-team factors and key innovation outcomes.
Research limitations/implications – Research that investigates user involvement in teams needs to consider the complexity of intra-team factors affecting the development process and outcomes. The findings are limited to a specific setting, design task and user sample. Future research should replicate this study in different sectors.
Practical implications – Key to customer co-creation is the systematic recruitment of users based on their background characteristics and motivational drivers. For instance, the involvement of users with very specific innovation-related benefit expectations can cause conflict, leading to narrowly focused outcomes. This, however, can be mitigated by the form of facilitation and roles adopted by in-house professionals. Understanding intra-team dynamics can allow the firm to assemble and facilitate customer co-creation so that generated outcomes can align with set innovation targets.
Originality/value – This paper provides original insights into the “black box” of the customer co-creation process and the complex relationship between team composition, intra-team factors and key innovation outcomes

Find in your library